A Wounded Animal…Or How to Tell When Someone Has Stopped Listening.

In the spirit of constructive communication and civility, I found this video has some very interesting pointers about how to tell when a discussion is going south…

To sum up: If you want to someone to hear what you are saying, it is importannt to recognise these warning signs that they are shutting down emotionally:

  • #1: Being stunned by new information.
  • #2: Inaccurately summarizing the other’s perspective.
  • #3: Misreading nefarious intent.
  • #4: Regularly moving goalposts.
  • #5: Yelling or getting angry.
  • #6: Attacking someone’s character.
  • #7: Retreating Without Concession

Nothing new here, but many people are not taught how to recognise discomfort in others. And since our culture is becomming more diverse, people are retreating to silence instead of engaging because discussions quickly break down.

Winning The Argument Or Saving the Friendship

Unfortunately, the “solution” offered towards the end of video is helpful if one needs to pursuade one’s oppenent to accept your point, but is not always successful. This is especially true when dealing with deep cultural differences. Conflicts on fundamental values or those which involve group cohesion are not going to be won over by reason alone. For example, you are not going to convince someone to leave their religion just because you have an argument that sounds reasonable. You may be putting the person in a position which will cut this person off from family and/or community ties. Some issues and worldviews run deeper than logic.

Still, the information in this video could save some friendships from completely unraveling. If your oppenent begins to show these signs, it might be time to drop it and get a beer. As this is getting harder and harder to do these days, this might be more valuable than winning the debate.